Studying at the University of Otago is so much more than an excellent academic experience – the accommodation you choose can shape your whole Otago experience.
Otago’s Residential College community offers a supportive and collegial living experience, while living in a shared University-managed flat will enable you to develop the valuable life skills of responsibility and independence, whilst still receiving support in a collegiate based community.
Private accommodation in Dunedin is in high demand and many students sign a lease (contract) for a flat/house/room many months in advance of the lease beginning. Most students return to Dunedin in January or February, resulting in peak demand for the remaining rental properties and rooms. During this time, it may take weeks rather than days to find private accommodation. We recommend that students view their potential accommodation in person before they sign a lease, so organising some short-term (temporary) accommodation is advised.
There are several accommodation options for international students studying at the different campuses of the University of Otago. When considering which would suit you best, it is important to consider whether you prefer an independent lifestyle or enjoy living in a community, like to cook for yourself or prefer to have your meals provided, and your budget.
University-owned (Dunedin only)
University-owned accommodation provides a safe and supportive environment, with academic support and cultural, sporting and social opportunities, conveniently located so residents can easily access the nearby campus and surrounding city.
Most school-leaver, first year students will stay in a University Residential College which is on- or near-campus dormitory-style accommodation. While postgraduate students are welcome to apply for any Residential College, Abbey College is Otago’s dedicated postgraduate college.
University Flats/Uni Flats
Uni Flats offers a shared flatting situation where a local host student lives with several international students. Uni Flats are the recommended option for Study Abroad and Exchange students.
Several people (usually between 3 and 7) live in a house together sharing kitchen, bathroom, laundry and living areas, along with each having their own separate bedroom. Living in a flat is the quintessential Otago experience, allowing students to manage their own living arrangements, and helping them to develop the independence for which Otago graduates are renowned.
Many students choose to live in a studio room, where they have their own room and bathroom (possibly some basic kitchen facilities), and a shared kitchen, living room and other common areas used by all tenants.
Some students live with a local family in their home, in homestay accommodation. Students are provided with their own bedroom and most meals, and the chance to build a relationship with a local family. Homestay accommodation is typically further from campus.
University of Otago Language Centre and Foundation Year manage homestays.
How and when to apply
Accommodation in Dunedin is in high demand and students are encouraged to consider their accommodation options early, and if applying to a Residential College or Uni Flats, to apply as early as possible.
If you have applied to study at Otago and have an offer of place
If you do not yet have an offer but would like to apply for a residential college or Uni Flats
As part of the application process for Residential Colleges, you will need to get a teacher to complete a Common Confidential Reference Form (CRCC) or two character references if you have left school more than two years ago.
Do not delay in getting this form completed as your application will not be processed until the Accommodation Office has received it.
Key application dates
|Applications open||Applications close|
|Full year accommodation||1 August|
|First semester (February–June)||1 August||1 December|
|Second semester (July–November)||1 April||1 June|
Students who apply after the closing date will be placed into a waitlist and will be contacted as rooms become available.
There is no closing date for applications from postgraduate students for Abbey College.
Students under the age of 18
New Zealand's Pastoral Care of International Students Code of Practice requires that all students who will be under the age of 18 at the time of enrolment live in one of the following options:
- an approved residential college:
- University Flats (University managed flats/houses)
- in a homestay
- with a designated caregiver
- with their parents
While under the age of 18, students will be required to meet with an International Student Adviser quarterly to discuss accommodation, academic progress, general health and well-being, and any concerns and complaints they may have.
Foundation Year students
Salmond College is the only Residential College that accepts applications from Foundation Year students.
Families and couples
A limited number of Uni Flats are available for small families and couples, or you may consider private accommodation. Contact the Student Accommodation Centre for more information.
The most commonly used accommodation option by students in Dunedin is shared flatting. This involves living in a house with other people and sharing kitchen, bathroom and living room, whilst having your own bedroom. The quality of private accommodation varies significantly and students are encouraged to view their potential accommodation in person before they sign a lease.
Finding private accommodation
To assist with your search for private accommodation below are the links for popular places to search for houses/ flats in Dunedin.
You may wish to consider organising some short-term accommodation options if you are in one of the following situations:
- you intend to find your own accommodation when you arrive in Dunedin
- you arrive before your accommodation is available
- we wish to see the accommodation before you sign a lease (recommended)
Other options include:
Property Real Estate Managers
The Student Accommodation Centre staff look after the application process for University-managed Accommodation – Residential Colleges and UniFlats. Once international students have received an offer of an academic place, their accommodation application will be forwarded to their first preference for consideration.
The Student Accommodation Centre can also provide some advice around private accommodation options.